Friday, October 11, 2013

Latin American Countries Put Up Front Against Corporate Lawsuits

Latin American countries are challenging rules on how to arbitrate disputes over trade agreements.
Bolivian President Evo Morales pictured with Cuba’s Raul Castro for the inauguration of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, April  2013. Boliva, Cuba and Venezuela are among 12 Latin American countries to push for new rules for resolving trade agreement disputes with multinational corporations. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
A bloc of a dozen Latin American countries have agreed to take collective action to oppose a spate of crippling lawsuits increasingly brought by multinational corporations against the governments of developing countries for alleged violations of trade agreements.

Advocates of fair trade and stricter corporate accountability say the decision, taken last week at a ministerial summit in Ecuador, offers a significant precedent for a nascent movement by developing countries increasingly pushing back against what they view as unfair trade terms in investment treaties.

“It’s incredibly exciting that 12 countries have pulled together to look at what has become a very serious issue,” Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA, a network of anti-poverty and anti-debt groups and a counterpart to one of the organizations that negotiated the new agreement, told Mint Press News.

“It’s not rocket science – this is about multinational corporations being able to hold countries hostage through continuous litigation, to litigate them into submission. Now, however, the space that’s being created offers ways to start to establish laws to limit this type of litigation and move to resolution.”